$278,832 in grants awarded, 8 projects improve Schuylkill River water quality

Lisa Mitchell - Digital First Media 
Touring the Marty Nothstein Property in Port Clinton, a 2012 Schuylkill River Restoration Fund grant recipient. A conservation easement preserved the organic farm which also includes forests and more than one mile of Schuylkill River frontage.
Lisa Mitchell - Digital First Media Touring the Marty Nothstein Property in Port Clinton, a 2012 Schuylkill River Restoration Fund grant recipient. A conservation easement preserved the organic farm which also includes forests and more than one mile of Schuylkill River frontage.
Lisa Mitchell - Digital First Media 
Touring the Marty Nothstein Property in Port Clinton, a 2012 Schuylkill River Restoration Fund grant recipient. A conservation easement preserved the organic farm which also includes forests and more than one mile of Schuylkill River frontage.
Lisa Mitchell - Digital First Media Touring the Marty Nothstein Property in Port Clinton, a 2012 Schuylkill River Restoration Fund grant recipient. A conservation easement preserved the organic farm which also includes forests and more than one mile of Schuylkill River frontage.

A total of $278,832 in Schuylkill River Restoration Fund Grants were awarded to eight projects that will improve water quality in the Schuylkill River, a source of drinking water for more than 1.5 million people.

The 2016 grant recipients were announced in conjunction with the Schuylkill Action Network’s free project tour on Sept. 7. Award presentations were held at the Marty Nothstein Property in Port Clinton, a 2012 Schuylkill River Restoration Fund grant recipient. A conservation easement preserved the organic farm which also includes forests and more than one mile of Schuylkill River frontage.

Berks County Conservation District received $8,332 for installing best management practices at Meyers Horse Farm in Barto.

Berks Nature received $95,000 for the Durkin Farm in Albany Township to install a manure storage facility and water transfer system on the 501-acre dairy farm located on Manor Creek, a tributary to the Maiden Creek.

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Berks Nature received $50,000 for the Zettlemoyer Farm in Albany Township to implement agricultural Best Management Practices on the 445-acre heifer operation located on Manor Creek. Project includes the installation of two dry storage facilities, waste transfer system, stormwater controls and streambank fencing.

Both the Durkin and Zettlemoyer farms are located on Manor Creek in the Maiden Creek watershed which contributes to the Lake Ontelaunee drinking water supply for the City of Reading.

“Berks County Conservation District and Reading Area Water Authority perform ongoing water quality monitoring on this tributary to measure effects of the best management practices installed on these farms,” said Larry Lloyd of Berks Nature, formerly Berks County Conservancy.

Borough of Pottstown received $40,000 for a Stormwater Filter Project for which the borough will install a new backflow prevention device to mitigate chronic roadway flooding and a new water quality unit to remove pollutants before discharged into the Schuylkill River.

Schuylkill Headwaters Association received $40,000 for the Big Creek Limestone Project for which the association will implement a dosing of high calcium limestone sand into the headwaters of Big Creek to reduce stream acidity, resulting in an average of 6,407 gallons per minute of treated water entering Schuylkill River.

North Light Community received $37,500 for the Schoolyard Stormwater renovation project at their educational facility in Philadelphia. Impervious playground surface will be removed and a stormwater management system will be installed, including a rain garden and native plants. The project will serve as a learning lab for students and the community.

Berks Nature received $4,000 for a conservation easement of 245 acres in St. Lawrence Borough to permanently protect 245 acres of forested property on an unnamed tributary of Antietam Creek, preserving and conserving water quality within upper Schuylkill River.

Natural Lands Trust received $4,000 for a conservation easement on the 30-acre Kulp Property to protect natural resources including the headwaters of Pigeon Creek. The project will also provide public access to a trail system in the East Coventry Township Trail Network.

“This is a unique partnership that’s had really tangible impacts for the Schuylkill River Watershed,” said Silas Chamberlin, Executive Director, Schuylkill River Heritage Area. “Over the 11 years of this public private partnership we have raised $2.9 million to give us grants for water quality projects throughout the region. We’ve been able to fund more than 80 projects.”

Those projects, he said, have secured resources from federal, state and private sources that have raised another $4.7 million in match.

“Which means this partnership over 11 years has leveraged $7.6 million for water quality in this watershed,” said Chamberlin. “The great thing about our program is that it covers a variety of project types, from acid mine drainage mitigation to agricultural improvements to stormwater best practices to acquisition. That’s why we’re standing here today.”

In addition to the program’s advisors, Chamberlin said the success of the Schuylkill River Restoration Fund is in part due to the funders. Exelon Generation has invested more than $2 million and the Philadelphia Water Department has invested substantial funds, he said.

“(Philadelphia Water Department) realizes that the quality of drinking water in Philadelphia is intimately tied to everything happening throughout the watershed,” said Chamberlin, who also noted other donors like Aqua PA and MOM’s Organic Market. “Even a small investment goes a long way to preserving the quality of the watershed.”

Steve Tambini, Executive Director, Delaware River Basin Commission, said the Schuylkill River Restoration Fund started out in 2006 and came about because of a docket DRBC (Delaware River Basin Commission), a science policy regulatory organization, a water resource management organization.

“When Exelon came to us and said we want to do more to protect the Schuylkill River, we said that’s a good idea,” said Tambini.

The Schuylkill River Restoration Fund was then established.

“They seeded the fund and built the foundation,” said Tambini. “Projects that include best management practices, land acquisitions and projects I’m sure you’re touring today.”

This year, Schuylkill River Restoration Fund donations included $183,885 by Exelon Generation, $100,000 by Philadelphia Water Department, $7,500 by Aqua PA and $1,087 by MOM’s Organic Market. Any funds not distributed this year roll over into 2017.

“During the 11 years since this fund’s inception, Exelon has contributed more than $2 million and we look forward to continuing that partnership in the future,” said Chris Gerdes, Environmental and Chemistry Manager, Exelon Generation’s Limerick Generating Station. “We’re proud of this partnership and applaud all of your efforts. Well done.”

According to http://www.schuylkillriver.org/restoration_fund.aspx, “The Schuylkill River Restoration Fund provides grants to government agencies and non-profit organizations for projects that improve the quality of water in the watershed. The grants focus on three major sources of pollution: stormwater run-off, agricultural pollution and abandoned mine drainage.”

For more information about the fund, visit http://www.schuylkillriver.org/restoration_fund.aspx.

About the Author

Lisa Mitchell

Lisa Mitchell is the editor of The Kutztown Patriot and Managing Editor of Berks-Mont Newspapers. Reach the author at lmitchell@berksmontnews.com or follow Lisa on Twitter: @kutztownpatriot.